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IHRB Commentary: 2012

Frances House

The Dhaka Principles for Migration With Dignity
18 December 2012 | by Frances House
On this International Migrants’ Day, painful reminders of the plight of millions of migrant workers are ever present. Be it news of the appalling over-crowded and unsanitary conditions in migrant worker dormitories across the UAE, young girls trafficked into the hospitality sector, domestic service or the sex industry, and the recent deadly blaze in a Bangladeshi garment factory which killed 112 workers, the exploitation of the migrant worker – who leaves his or her home to work in a distant place, within the country or beyond - is rife in countries around the world.

Dominique Lazanski

What the WCIT could mean for business and human rights
04 December 2012 | by Dominique Lazanski
Over the next two weeks at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will review a treaty called the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988. The ITRs were originally intended to regulate and manage international telephone issues. But since 1988 the Internet has developed to an extent where its importance has grown significantly...

Salil Tripathi

Views on Kiobel vs. Shell
09 October 2012 | by Salil Tripathi
Last week the United States Supreme Court once again considered the case of Esther Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Detailed background of the case here). It is too soon to say what the Court’s verdict will be, but whichever way the judges decide, the burden of identifying the best way to adjudicate on corporate accountability should not have to rest on a single case. At the same time, the case clearly points to the ongoing struggle to ensure access to effective remedies for the most serious violations of international law.

James Cockayne

From Sandline to Saracen: Time to hold the private security industry to its human rights commitments
25 September 2012 | by James Cockayne
In July 2012 a UN Monitoring Group alleged that a private military and security company (‘PMSC’) registered in British territory – Saracen International, closely linked to Sterling Corporate Services – may have spent much of the last two years involved in activities that breach UN sanctions in Somalia, with several Somalis apparently ending up dead in the process.

Lucy Amis

London 2012 Olympics: What Legacy for Business and Human Rights?
11 September 2012 | by Lucy Amis
As the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic experience draws to a close, attention turns to questions of legacy. The Institute for Human Rights and Business is currently drafting recommendations for a London 2012 Business and Human Rights legacy and is reaching out to the IOC, LOCOG, the Commission for Sustainable London, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Olympic sponsors and others to make this a reality.

Kendyl Salcito

Lonmin Tragedy: Time to Take Human Rights Due Diligence Seriously
23 August 2012 | by Kendyl Salcito
Only days after South African police opened fire killing 34 striking workers at a mine operated by UK based company Lonmin (which operates several mines for precious metals including platinum), company executives ordered 3,000 miners to return to their posts or face dismissal. Critical now is the need to provide justice for victims and take the steps to ensure that security forces and the company operate consistent with respect for fundamental human rights.

Jim Baker

The UN Guiding Principles – Opportunities, Challenges - One Year Later
19 June 2012 | by Jim Baker
The framework developed by John Ruggie and his team and the adoption one year ago of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs) was a turning point in the debate on the responsibilities of business to society. The credibility of the GPs is that they are based on universal human rights standards, that they articulate the respective roles of governments and business and include an understanding of the need for remedy.

Mark Taylor

A Glass Filling Up - Reflections on the first year anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
18 June 2012 | by Mark Taylor
There have been tremendous strides made in a very short time in two - and possibly all three – of the areas which are necessary to changing business behavior with respect to human rights. For the progress to continue, for a glass not quite half-full to continue filling up, civil society will have to ramp up its efforts and ensure that governments put the right policies in place, with the right mix of remedies to ensure the incentive framework for business is both fair and effective.

Mumtaz Lalani

Effective monitoring of domestic supply chains key to ending forced labour
01 June 2012 | by Mumtaz Lalani
Most debates on business involvement in human rights abuses focus on the role of global multinationals operating overseas. But new research supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds problems much closer to home, in particular among agency and sub-contracted staff working for companies within the UK...

Neill Wilkins

The Staff Wanted Initiative - The Hospitality Industry will only earn respect by respecting those who work within it
21 May 2012 | by Neill Wilkins
Swept along by the Olympics and interest in the capital engendered by the Jubilee Celebrations, the tourism industry and particularly London hotels are anticipating a bumper summer. The rewards of this boom will not, however, be shared by all of those who work in London’s hotels...

Daniel Yeo

Water security – a different perspective
12 April 2012 | by Daniel Yeo
Last month, the U.S. Intelligence Community, at the request of the U.S. State Department, published a global water security assessment addressing the question: “How will water problems (shortages, poor water quality, or floods) impact U.S. national security interests over the next 30 years?” The report is a notable and solid contribution to understanding water security...

Salil Tripathi

Myanmar: Investing in the Future of Democracy and Human Rights
03 April 2012 | by Salil Tripathi
The results of Sunday’s historic elections in Myanmar appear to have given Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD) overwhelming support in the 45 constituencies for which by-elections were held. Early indications suggest that even though most NLD leaders spent many years in prison, with some being released only a month before elections, the support the party enjoys among the masses has remained intact...

Diane Osgood

Slaves in the food chain: when compliance isn’t enough
12 March 2012 | by Diane Osgood
A new law in the U.S. state of California which took effect in January of this year – the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act - requires companies over a certain size with any retail or manufacturing presence in the state to post on their website what, if anything, they are doing to prevent slave labour and human trafficking in their supply chains. The requirement applies regardless of where the company is headquartered. Debt bondage and indentured labor are forms of slavery which can be found in almost every country in the world...

Kelly Davina Scott

Developing Practical Tools for Business on Land and Human Rights
08 March 2012 | by Kelly Davina Scott
A patchwork of existing guidelines relating to land already exist, such as the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and other Natural Resources and the World Bank’s Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respects Rights, Livelihoods and Resources. Yet at the moment there isn’t widely accepted guidance on these issues aimed specifically at business. We at the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) are working to help fill that gap...

Haley St. Dennis

Kiobel Case a Reminder of Remedy Gaps Still to be Bridged
28 February 2012 | by Haley St. Dennis
This week, the United States Supreme Court is at the centre of the global business and human rights agenda. The Court is hearing oral arguments in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., a highly anticipated case expected to determine whether claimants from anywhere in the world can continue to bring civil suits in U.S. courts against corporate defendants for alleged egregious violations of human rights under international law...

Rebecca MacKinnon

Technology companies, free expression and privacy
20 February 2012 | by Rebecca MacKinnon
Apple has come under heavy scrutiny and criticism in recent months for abusive supply chain labour practices. Its decision to join the Fair Labor Association has been hailed as an important step in the right direction: a public commitment to its responsibilities in respecting and protecting the human rights of its workers...

Auret van Heerden

The Next Generation of Social Responsibility Leaders
10 February 2012 | by Auret van Heerden
In the late '90s, when consumers first started to become aware of workers’ rights violations in factories around the world, apparel and footwear brands became the target. The Fair Labor Association was formed, in part, in response to that sentiment, and for more than a decade its affiliates – civil society organisations, universities and socially responsible companies – have joined forces to protect workers and resolve labour issues in supply chains...

Salil Tripathi

Time to establish human rights criteria for selecting corporate sponsors
31 January 2012 | by Salil Tripathi
The resignation of Meredith Alexander from the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 Olympics raises the question of the factors organisers consider in deciding supporters for such major events. Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Olympics has been contentious - with activist groups in the UK and in India, and some former Indian Olympians, joining the rising chorus of complaints over the company’s role in the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster and its aftermath...

John Ruggie

Building on a ‘landmark year’ and thinking ahead
12 January 2012 | by Prof. John Ruggie
In a relatively short period of time we have managed to achieve unprecedented convergence among major international standard setting bodies regarding the steps states and business enterprises must take to meet their respective human rights commitments under the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Guiding Principles...

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